Groups Advise Bush to Drop Effort to Revive Faith Initiative. (People & Events)

Article excerpt

A broad array of national groups has urged President George W. Bush to postpone action on the controversial "charitable choice" provision in his "faith-based initiative."

In a joint letter to Bush Oct. 3, 44 major national labor, education, religious, civil rights and civil liberties groups, including Americans United, asked the president not to push for passage of the most divisive aspects of the "faith-based" package at a time when Americans are striving for national unity.

Recent news media reports have indicated that some Bush advisors want to press for the administration proposal now to take advantage of the bipartisan spirit in Congress and the country. On Sept. 25 The Washington Post reported that some Bush advisors believe the swell in religiosity after the terrorist attacks has created an atmosphere favorable to the faith-based initiative.

"There's an immediate need for an infusion of support to community-serving organizations," one anonymous advisor told The Post. White House Deputy Public Liaison Tim Goeglein later added that Bush hopes to sign the measure into law by the end of the year.

But the groups signing the letter to Bush urged caution. Any effort to advance the "charitable choice" provision of the faith-based package, they warned, would raise religiously divisive issues and meet with strong resistance.

"People of all faiths -- and those of no religion -- are uniting together as Americans," said the joint letter. "This is no time to divide us along religious lines."

The president's "charitable choice" proposal allows churches and other ministries to receive government grants and contracts and still discriminate on religious grounds in hiring staff. …